Truth is My Sword, Volume II
by Bo Hi Pak
Chapter 61 Heavenly Dancers
December 10, 1996
Dr. Pak speaks to the students of the Kirov Academy of Ballet with a deep parental heart. He talks about the importance of beauty and self-discipline and implores them to strengthen and purify their spirits as well as their bodies. The Kirov has gained international recognition since its founding in 1990, and its dancers regurarl y win prestigious awards. Its graduates are sought after by dance companies around the world.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and students. I have so much to tell you that I don't know where to begin. It is true, as Michael Beard said in his kind introduction, that I was involved in creating the Kirov Academy of Ballet. However, I am not a founder. The founders are Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. They are religious leaders who founded a religious movement that has spread all over the world. Out of their religious conviction, they were motivated to promote artistic excellence.
I have always been very careful in handling this academy because I don't want it to be regarded as a part of the church or the church work. I do not want to impart that image because that is not the case for the student body or the faculty. I have wanted to meet all of you for a very long time, but I didn't want to be in a position to be criticized that we founded the school with some ulterior motives, which is not the case.
The school has been in existence for five years now. That is a very short time for any major institution. In this five years we have proven to the world what the Kirov Academy is all about. This is an artistic school, educating and training the future stars of the dance world. We have already won several medals, including two gold medals in Varna, Bulgaria. Many graduates are joining the major companies around the world. And in the future among you there shall be great medal winners and future ballerinas and danseurs. It is my greatest honor to speak to you and to your distinguished teachers.
I come today to speak to you to share the founding spirit of this school, to establish a dialogue with you, and together create a vision of the future of the Kirov. In just a short span of five years, the Kirov has become the number one ballet school in the entire world, including even Russia. I want to give my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our artistic director, Mr. Oleg Vinogradov, our deputy artistic director, Yelena Vinogradova, and the members of the faculty, both academic and artistic. That is my first order of business today. Let's join together to give our director and our deputy director and our teachers a resounding round of applause.
A Lover of Ballet
Where do we go from here? What kind of dancers would you like to become? I am not an artist, I am not a musician, I am not a dancer, but I am a lover of ballet. Why do I love ballet? I don't know even myself. I love ballet, period. Therefore, I love you because you are ballet dancers. Yesterday I went to the shopping center to buy some Christmas cards and I was trying to find a 1997 calendar. There are many, many beautiful calendars, but the one I bought was of ballerinas. In looking at these pictures, I came to a deep realization. I am looking at something very heavenly. Next year we are going to create a ballet calendar by the Kirov Academy, I promise you. We will make an even better calendar than this one.
What is ballet to me? I am not an artist; basically, I am a military man. I fought in the Korean War. For three years I was in battle. Many times I was on the verge of being killed, but miraculously I was saved, and ever since I have been a believer in God. I know I could not have survived unless God exists and unless He helped me. That is my experience. That is my background.
After that kind of desperate experience in war, surrounded by death, I came to think about life. What is life? What is death? What is the best way to live? That is what I was thinking about at the age of 21. I was at war when I was 21. Some of you will be 21 soon. At that age I was thinking deeply about life. I am not trying to give you my whole life story; that is not the purpose of my talk today. But I was pursuing something truthful, something wonderful, something pure and beautiful and moving. I was aspiring for those things as a young man. Then I came to the poignant realization that the very famous Russian writer Dostoyevsky expressed as "beauty saved the world." Especially God-centered beauty. The most beautiful things were created by God. Everything that God created is beautiful. In my life, I try to appreciate God-created beauty.
Manifestation of Beauty
Among the many things that God has created, what is the most beautiful? Do you know the answer? You. Men and women. Human beings. Men and women are God's highest, most beautiful creation. And where is that human beauty most completely manifested? In ballet. When I see ballet performed on the stage, I see the most beautiful form of man and woman. That is what made me fall in love with ballet. When I look at pictures like this, and when I see you performing, I feel only one thing: heavenly. Pure and heavenly, beautiful and heavenly. I give praise to the Creator. That is the basic and the fundamental reason I have fallen in love with ballet.
You are in the process of creating that beauty. You are being trained in this school to manifest the ideal form of man and woman as God intended in the Garden of Eden. That is the kind of role you as ballet dancers are going to play. You didn't know that, right? You didn't know why you liked ballet so much, why you have to sweat so much. But you now know you are really trying to manifest to the world the most beautiful thing that God created.
You know human history has not always been a beautiful one. There is a lot of ugliness, lots of suffering, war, disasters, human tragedy, blood, fighting. Even today, all that is going on in the outside world. Why? What is the reason for this? Simply because man has forgotten God, our Creator. That is why all these terrible things are happening. We left God, sinned, and human beauty and purity was lost. Human history is nothing more than the history of restoration, trying to reach out for God. All of humanity is reaching out for the God we lost.
So everything we do, the ways we express ourselves-in beautiful writing or movies or dance or music-come from the human desire to reach out for God, longing for His love and wanting to be embraced by the Creator. The best artistic expression of this longing is ballet. That is my conviction. When I watch Swan Lake for example, or Giselle, or the Nutcracker, something in the ballet hits me, deep inside, the real me.
All you young women, what do you do? You are learning what? To stand on point. This is very painful. Your foot was not designed to walk on point. If God had designed the foot for you to walk on point, it would be shaped differently. You know how painful it is, and you never let others see your feet. The worst thing for a ballerina is to have to show your feet. But you just swallow that ugliness, swallow that pain. Why? You want to be taller. Why do you want to be taller? You want to reach out for God. Isn't that true? Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that a beautiful interpretation? You are always reaching out with your arms, your neck, your whole body. What happened to your arms? They are getting longer, always reaching higher and higher. And your necks are getting longer. Look at pictures of all the great ballerinas. Your desire for God makes you reach out, getting longer and taller.
Jump for God
What are you men trying to do? You want to jump higher and higher and higher. Rasta Thomas, why are you so famous? You jump and stay in the air for a while before coming down. Why do you do that, you men? Because you want to get close to God. You jump and reach out for Him. Your hands and arms are up. When I see all this beauty on stage, I see all of humanity reaching out for our lost God, desiring His love. This is what ballet means to me. It is the perfect art form that engenders tremendous beauty and is so very moving and soul-shaking. It tries to bring human beings closer to perfection, close to the Creator. This is why I love ballet.
And this is why in my life I invested myself into the children's ballet company known as the Little Angels in Korea. Our founder, Reverend Moon, created them, and I became a sort of project officer. I helped the Little Angels project materialize. Over the last 33 years, they have performed more than 4,000 times as ambassadors of peace around the world. Why a children's ballet? Because children represent innocence and purity. When the Little Angels perform, it doesn't matter if the audience is in America, Russia, Germany, England, South America, or any corner of the world, the people cry because it is so beautiful and so pure, so innocent. It touches their hearts. Every human being has that craving for the purity and beauty and innocence. The Little Angels set off that inner desire of human beings, and that is why all of a sudden tears come.
So you manifest two qualities: purity and beauty. Also in ballet the struggle between good and evil is very, very clear. No other art form makes that distinction as clearly. You immediately know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. On stage, the bad guy often wears black or some special mask. So good and evil are very clear on the stage. Usually good triumphs, but not always.
Classical ballet engenders incredible sensations in the audience. This is why I like classical ballet better than modern ballet. I enjoy modern ballet, but I love classical ballet more. You have to learn both. You have to be professional on both sides. Because of the reasons I have already explained, the classical form of ballet is to me the real ballet. The reason I love the Kirov Ballet is because it is the classic of classics. It is the pacesetter of the entire ballet world. Throughout the 250 years of ballet history, the Kirov has set the standard for the entire ballet world. That is why I am very, very happy to be associated with Oleg Vinogradov, the artistic director of the Kirov Ballet for 20 years, with Yelena Vinogradova, the deputy artistic director, and with the many Kirov dancers and teachers.
We are good enough to be given the name Kirov. We are the Kirov Academy of the West. The Vaganova school is the Kirov Academy of the East. We have the best of the both worlds, east and west. We have the Kirov tradition, the Vaganova tradition, and the best possible teachers you can imagine. We also have the western conveniences, western facilities, and the western style of management. So the best of the two worlds have come together to produce this Kirov Academy. In the future, the Kirov Academy is going to be the best in the entire world, even surpassing the Vaganova. That is my conviction and my pride.
What is our next goal? For me and our founder our next goal is to create a ballet company. We already created the Universal Ballet Company in Korea, the UBC, 11 or 12 years ago. It has become the number one company in Asia and one of the best in the world.
You have petitioned to create a company here in Washington. I tell you, I have a master plan to create a ballet company here in the nation's capitol. You know that the Washington Opera Company is going to build an opera house. The Kennedy Center is so crowded, we could not become the resident company in the Kennedy Center. When the opera company creates their own theater, it will almost be like the Maryinsky-Kirov Theater in St. Petersburg. I want to create a company that will become the resident company of the opera house here in Washington. I know you want that too. Our school is second to none in the world, and our company will be the same. That is going to be our goal.
But as you know, the creation of a company is an enormous undertaking. It cannot be done overnight. This school has been in existence for six years, and a company will take about the same amount of time to grow. The Opera House will be finished around the year 2000 or 2001. By that time we will have our company totally ready.
However, it takes a lot of work, a lot of preparation, and a lot of budget. All of these things have to be considered. So until then I am concentrating on the Universal Ballet in Korea. They are making a U.S. tour next year. Both companies, the Universal Ballet and the new Washington ballet company, are in the Kirov tradition. Both come under one directorship, Oleg Vinogradov, and his deputy is always Yelena Vinogradova. This company will be created under their leadership. The students who are graduating next year should consider joining the Universal Ballet. It is almost like a preparation for the Washington company. Eventually the Universal Ballet will supply a lot of trained, experienced dancers to the Washington company.
You Won't Want to Leave
You will be very well treated in the Universal Ballet, which is already touring the world: America, Europe, and Asia, of course. This year we are performing in Japan, Thailand, and Formosa. After a year you might want to join some American ballet company. However, after being with the Universal Ballet, you may not want to leave. Why? It is so good. Unlike in other companies, the Kirov students and graduates are specially treated in the Universal Ballet. You won't get that kind of preferential treatment anywhere else.
I am very glad that many Korean students are here being trained by the Kirov Academy. You will be able to join the UBC with pride. Eventually your stage is the world stage. You won't stay in Korea but will have the opportunity to tour the world and join the Washington company. I promise you that will be the case for all the good, qualified students. There are no bad ones in the Kirov Academy, so I have no problem.
Now I want to dedicate the last 10 minutes to a most important subject. I want you to listen to me. Look at me, because you don't listen to somebody with your ears alone. You also listen with your eyes. We need eye-to-eye contact. That is real listening. I will prove it to you. When you sleep, nobody stops up your ears, but when you close your eyes, you don't hear anything. So you see, your ears are open but your eyes are closed so you can't hear anything. I have come to the conclusion that you hear with your eyes. If you aren't looking at me, you are not listening to me. That is for sure.
What is the most important quality you need to succeed as ballet dancers? It is discipline, self-discipline. Without self-discipline, none of you will be good dancers. You have to push yourself, exercise and train constantly, and you have to watch your diet. You can't go out for ice cream every night. You can't fill your body with junk food. No-you have to have discipline. You know what to drink and what not to drink and what to eat and what not to eat and how much to eat and when to eat. You have a disciplined life.
Discipline Your Body and Spirit
I have a daughter who is a ballerina. She is now in St. Petersburg. We almost gave up on her becoming a ballerina, because her mother strongly objected. Mama is mama. When Thanksgiving came and there was turkey and pumpkin pie with lots of ice cream-boy, you would be drooling. But Julia would say, "No, I can't eat." My wife would say, "It is too cruel to my daughter, you cannot do that, you cannot push her to become a ballerina. She will suffer." Her mother's love doesn't want her daughter to become a ballerina, because the discipline is so strict and her life seems painful and even pitiful. To make a long story short, Julia kept up the discipline to become a ballerina. I really admire and respect her because of her spirit of self-discipline. She made up her mind to become a ballerina. If she thinks she shouldn't do certain things, she just doesn't do them-period. Nothing can change her. I am sure every one of you are like that. Otherwise you would not be here in the Kirov Academy.
Now self-discipline does not apply just to your body. Self-discipline applies equally to your mind and your spirit and your intellect. This is why you have to study the academic courses and not just dance. You need the academic teachers to give you knowledge and experiences and intellectual development. Furthermore, you have to polish your mind and soul so you will become the owner of a great character. Art is nothing more than the expression of the inner character to the audience. If you don't have a noble, polished, beautiful inner character, you really have nothing to show on the stage. Moving your foot and your leg is not ballet. You have to convey your soul; you have to convey your mind, your heart. That is ballet. You have to polish that part too. That is why we have academic as well as artistic training. Both parts are equally important.
You know there are physical laws you have to live by. You have to breath air. You have to eat food and drink water every day. Furthermore, when you violate physical law, it will bring you to destruction. For example, if you climb to the 17th floor of a building and jump off, what will happen? You better know. You will be dead. Period. Why? You violated physical law. You are not supposed to jump off a building. If you violate physical law, it will destroy you. For example, you are supposed to breathe air. If you go under water and try to breathe water, you will be dead. It is a violation of the physical law.
At the same time there are equally important spiritual laws. You are all spiritual beings. Everyone has a spirit, your soul, your mind. There are invisible laws governing your spiritual behavior. It is equally important you live in accordance with spiritual law. Otherwise you will go the way of self-destruction. I am not happy with the artistic community, especially the ballet community, about one thing. There is a lot of broken discipline, both physical and spiritual. Let me speak very frankly to you. For example, everywhere today, not only in the artistic community, there is a lot of homosexuality and lesbianism. You know all of this, I don't have to explain to you.
But you also have to know that this is absolutely against physical law and spiritual law. What does that bring? Self-destruction. It is very important that the Kirov Academy stay far from that kind of influence. The Kirov Academy should have nothing to do with that kind of ungodly thing. I trust you. I believe you. I trust our leadership, teachers, directors, and staff, all of you. I want to make the Kirov Academy the best by not only promoting good ballet but also by promoting a good educational atmosphere. These illicit, impure things should not infiltrate into our academy, into your minds. Purity and beauty are the highest qualities, but they can be lost. Your minds can be made ugly, impure, and no longer beautiful.
Another evil enemy in our society, not only for dancers but for all young people, is drugs: cocaine, heroin, marijuana. I don't know how marijuana tastes, and I never want to know. Millions of young people in America today have become victims of those drugs. There was a beautiful ballet danseur, a principal from the American Ballet Theater, whom we invited to come to Korea to perform with the UBC. He was tall, handsome, a great dancer. I really respected and admired him. He was my hero. He had a great future. Every year we invited him, but then one year his company said, no, we cannot send that man. What happened? He is dead from drugs. Just like that, that young man, probably 26 years old, dead from drugs. I was shocked. You know all these things may seem far from your situation, but you must be realistic and know that these things are in your environment, including ballet companies.
Furthermore, it is no secret today that many famous personages in the ballet world have died from AIDS. Sad, is it not? I don't have to name them. Here in America, in France, in Russia, and all over the world, this is happening. The Kirov Academy, especially the Kirov students, will be the exception. I tell you one very important thing. This has to become your philosophy of life. You all chose ballet. You must think of yourself as being married to ballet. Before you are married to a man or woman, you are married to ballet. Until you find your husband, until you find your wife, stay faithful to ballet. Don't monkey around with anything else. Make all your dates with ballet. Day in and day out, put your heart and soul into ballet. Then when the time comes and you meet a good candidate for your wife or husband, then get married. I will congratulate you. You should have nothing to do with AIDS. Nothing to do with promiscuity. Nothing to do with homosexuality. Nothing to do with lesbianism. This is my most direct, honest, important parental recommendation for all you young people. You are married to ballet. Put your heart and soul into it. Otherwise you will not succeed.
You know, Michele Wiles wouldn't have won that gold medal if she hadn't given her total self to ballet. And she must do so until she gets married. Even after she marries her husband, she is married to ballet. All the men and women should do the same. You will become wholesome, pure, genuine people of character. This is very important.
Have Dates With Ballet
For this reason, I admire the Russian system much more than the U.S. system. This is one reason I am bringing Russian teachers and tradition to America. Of course, academically, we have the best here in American, no question about it. But artistically speaking, the Russian tradition is better than the U.S. tradition. There is much less monkey business among men and women. In the Russian tradition, yes, you touch each other physically when you are on stage, but that is for the sake of art. But off stage, you are gentlemen, you are ladies. You act like gentlemen, act like ladies. The Russian system is far closer to the ideal. That is why I brought the Russian system to our school. This is a good environment for all of you. Have dates with ballet. Your boyfriend is ballet, your girlfriend is ballet. This is a most positive slogan. You live it. Go for a date at the studio, get completely sweaty. Maintain your self-discipline. Maintain the purity and beauty of your body and soul and heart. Grow up in that fashion. You will be a great dancer. But more important, you will be a great character. You will become a great human being. I want you to become that kind of men and women. That is my final plea today. That is my Christmas gift today.
Our founders, Reverend Moon and Mrs. Moon, have given millions of dollars to this institution. No one under the sun can equal their philanthropy. They are doing this to support the growth of this great ballet school. It is the founders' desire that graduates of the Kirov Academy be leaders of the dance world, not only the best artistically, but also spiritually. In other words, our founder is investing money to create great human beings who are also great artists. Beautiful dancers who are pure and beautiful in spirit and character, who are respected not only on stage but off. If you are genuine and pure, people will love you and respect you. Toward that purpose, our founder is giving money to us. If you go in the wrong direction and do wrong things, this school will not be continued. A new company will not be created. Reverend Moon does not want to create just another company. No. We want to have something unique, different, which will lead the 21st century, a new, healthy, God-centered company. That is the kind of company we are forming. That is the kind of school we have today.
Our founder has invested from the beginning more than $30 million. That comes down to an investment of $400,000 or $500,000 for each of you. Why would we do this? We would like to see you become wholesome men and women of great character, great human beings, with purity and beauty and at the same time total concentration. It is a very expensive investment, and I want it to pay off. We don't ask you anything else. I am not asking you to pay back a penny. You give back to the people of the world. Isn't that great? Aren't you glad you are in a great school? There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world. You can look everywhere and you won't find it. I want you to be serious.
I am telling you all this not as the president of the Foundation. I am speaking to you with a parental heart. I have sons like you. I have daughters like you. I have grandchildren growing up like you. I really look at you as my daughters and sons and grandchildren. How do I want them to grow up? I am telling to you that aspiration today. I want you to be successful. Not just great artists but whole human beings. Become a great human being first. That is very, very important. I am glad you and all the academic staff are here. It is equally important that you polish their minds and their spirits as well as their dance talent. Let them become great men and women. We want to produce a different kind of artist. Not the conventional artist, a different kind of artist, to represent the Kirov. If we don't, no one else will. Did you understand my message? You got it, didn't you? Yes or no? A little louder please. Yes or no? Great.
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